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Increase in Fiber Intake Decreases Breast Cancer Risk


Increasing your fiber intake may do more than make you “regular”: it may also decrease your risk of breast cancer, according to a new report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. An 11 percent lower risk of breast cancer was seen in women who consumed the most fiber compared with those who ate the least.

High-fiber foods include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains

The reviewers evaluated data from 10 prospective cohort studies of breast cancer risk and dietary fiber intake. A total of 712,195 participants and 16,848 cases of breast cancer were involved, and the studies looked at women’s diets and cancer risk over 7 to 18 years.

Overall, the authors found an 11 percent reduced risk of breast cancer when comparing the highest versus the lowest intake of dietary fiber. Variable such as alcohol use, hormone replacement therapy, body weight, and family history of breast cancer were factored in. They also reported that for every 10 gram per day increment in dietary fiber intake, there was a significant 7 percent reduction in breast cancer risk.

In another study published in May 2011 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers studied the association between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk by estrogen-receptor (ER) and progesterone-receptor (PR) status. A total of 438 cases of primary breast cancer were evaluated, and they were matched to 438 controls.

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Of the primary breast cancer cases studied, the researchers found a statistically significant reduced risk for breast cancer when comparing the highest versus the lowest quartile of intake of total dietary fiber, soy fiber, vegetable fiber, and fruit fiber, but not cereal consumption. Fiber intake was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in ER+, ER-, PR+, ER+PR+, and ER-PR+ tumors.

In the new review study, the authors noted their findings indicate that a high intake of dietary fiber is linked to better health overall, which could be the reason fiber intake lowers breast cancer risk. According to Jia-Yi Dong, from the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Radiation Medicine and Public Health, Soochow University, women who eat more fiber may have healthier habits overall, and various factors may protect them from breast cancer.

The researchers concluded that “this meta-analysis provides evidence of a significant inverse dose-response association between dietary fiber intake and breast cancer risk.”

Dong J-Y et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011 Aug; doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.015578
Zhang CX et al. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011 May 4

Picture source: Wikimedia Commons